How we create our travel map

Occasionally we are asked how we create our animated travel map.

It’s a long process, but let’s get started.

Setting up the Initial Map

  • MAP
    • I use a Macintosh computer and an Application called ‘Keynote,’ which is the Macintosh equivalent to Microsoft’s ‘Powerpoint.’
      • ‘Keynote’ comes free when you buy a Macintosh computer.
    • I found a map of North America online. I took a screen snapshot of it and pasted it into a new blank slide in Keynote. 
    • I took a photo of our Airstream, and using Photoshop, isolated the Airstream removing all the background so only the Airstream was left and then saved the GIF.
    • I inserted that Airstream GIF onto the map.
    • I sized the Airstream GIF to a size I liked.
    • I animated the Airstream GIF using Keynote animation tool: Build In > Fireworks

Steps to create a travel day’s journey

  1. I go to and create a route-map of our travel-day by entering the beginning point and the end point.
  2. Using that Google travel-day route-map (created in step 1) as a reference, I draw a line over the Keynote slide I created in the initial setup above, replicating as close as I can, the actual route using the Keynote tool, ‘Insert > Line > Draw With a Pen.’ 
  3. I change the color and size of the line to what I like.
  4. Now I use the Animate tool in Keynote called ‘Wipe’ to animate the drawn line (created in step 2) to go the direction we just traveled. ➡︎⬅︎⬆︎⬇︎➚⬋⬊⬉
  5. Next, I set how many milliseconds I want the animated line to move based on that day’s traveled miles. The more miles traveled that day, the longer the line would remain animated. Short days like 100 miles, might be 300 milliseconds (.30 seconds), and a long day like 200 miles, might be 1 second.
  6. Now I put a black dot at the end point and animate it to ‘Appear’ after the travel line’s animation is finished.
    • See below for July 2023 update, if interested.
  7. I move the Airstream GIF (created in the initial setup) that has been animated to be Built-in with Fireworks on top of the last black dot endpoint
  8. I set it to appear after the last black dot end point appears.
  9. When ready for publishing, I use a Macintosh Application called ‘Quicktime,’ which is also free when you buy a Macintosh, to record the computer’s screen as Keynote plays the animation. 
  10. Once recorded, I import the Quicktime Screen Recording File into an Application called iMovie, which is also free when you buy a Macintosh, and adjust the speed of the movie to match the music and sound effects. 
  11. Next, I export the finished movie out of iMovie into a MP4 file and upload it to our website. 
  12. After each travel day I repeat steps 1 through 8, starting at the previous stopped location.

I update the website with a new updated animated map 3 or 4 times a month.

Sounds complicated? It was at first, but not any more because I have done it more than 470+ times. It only takes about 15 minutes to add a new travel day to the map.

If you try this and are successful, we would love to see your animated map on your website. Please leave your feedback and link to your map in the comment section below. Good luck!


I figured out how to animate an Airstream to follow the animated route. It adds another layer of complexity, but if you are interested, here is how I do it.

  • These steps occur after step 5 and before step 6 above.
  • I insert another Airstream GIF onto the map.
  • I place it at the beginning of our travels.
  • I select the GIF and animate it using the Animate tool in Keynote called ‘Action’ > ‘Move.’
  • That will create a red line presenting the Airstream’s movement pointing to a faded Airstream that is the temporary end point of the ‘Move.’
  • I move that faded Airstream on top of the last black dot of our day’s journey.
  • I manipulate the red line to match the day’s route.
    • Clicking on the red line creates white dots that can be used to manipulate the red line on top of the day’s journey.
  • I change the duration of the ‘Move” to match the duration set of the day’s journey in Step 4 above in my original instructions.
  • Each time I add another day’s journey, I move the animated Airstream GIF end point on top of the new black dot end point.
  • I match the red line using the process I described above on top of that day’s journey.
  • I lengthen and add to the duration time of the Airstream GIF move by adding the duration of the new day’s journey.
  • The Animated Airstream should always lead in front of the animated line.
    • If not, I have to mess with the timing.

8 thoughts on “How we create our travel map

    1. Carol, congratulations on going full-time Airstreaming next fall. Maybe our paths will cross. Please let us know if you are successful in creating an animated map. We would love to see it. Jim

  1. Ok…. Well this was way cool. We aren’t retired yet… well I’m not! 🙄 so luckily I have my work Mac. We take a 1.5 trip this summer through 11 states I believe and make one of these will be fun!!

    HH is our main stays…. And we are hoping this is a dry run for retirement in about 9 years!!!

    Thanks. I hope to be sharing a map soon!!!

    1. Tammie, your summer trip through 11 states sounds fun and we would love to see your animated map when you make it. Retirement in 9 years! You will be surprised how fast that will go! Maybe our paths will cross someday on the road. Stay safe our there! Jim

    1. Helene, glad you like our animated map. Back in 2016, we started using a website called Animaps. It worked great and did what I have now do using Keynote. BUT… in 2018 it was discontinued. It was then I started creating my own animated map. After about 3 years, in 2020, it became obvious that having 5 years of travel lines (2016 to 2020) overlapping each other and trying to add more journeys on top of old journeys, I had to think of something. So I have now broken down each year into its own Keynote slide so that I am only working with the current year on the map. I have what I call the “Master Map” slide where I have placed all the year’s journeys together and where I move the new day’s journey from the current year where I created it to the “Master Map” for final adjustments and creation of the movie I upload to our website. Now that I am working on the 8th year map, I am so glad I separated the years back in 2020. Not sure I have made any sense to my process, but it works for us. If you ever make your own animate travel map, we would love to see it. Thanks for following Living in Beauty. Stay safe out there and happy travels. Jim

Leave a Reply